The 106-Mile March for Civil Rights
In 1953, T.J. Jemison, a Baptist minister and one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led the nation’s first bus boycott against segregated seating in Baton Rouge. For eight days, African-Americans in the city organized a free car-pool system. Jemison’s efforts served as a model for the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama two years later.
The battle for racial justice pressed on when on August 10, 1967, two activists from Bogalusa, Louisiana – A.Z. Young and Robert Hicks – began a 106-mile march to Baton Rouge to raise awareness of the rash of violence against African-Americans nationwide. The march ended 10 days later with a rally on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol. By the time the marchers reached the Capitol, their numbers had grown from 25 to over 600. They were protected by over 2,000 National Guardsmen and police officers. The march leaders had appealed to the federal government for protection from violence and racial slurs by white segregationists. The fact that the federal government came to the aid of the marchers demonstrated the seriousness of the situation, but also the support of the federal government to enforce new civil rights legislation.